SBD/Issue 46/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NBA's Stern, Silver To Discuss CBA With Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher

Thursday's Meeting Will Be First With Stern,
Silver, Hunter Since Talk Of Reducing Salaries

Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher said that he and NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter on Thursday meet with NBA Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver in a CBA negotiating session "involving the heaviest hitters," according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. Fisher "will participate via conference call" from Minneapolis during the Lakers' upcoming road trip. He said, "The smaller meetings allow us to get more accomplished. We're going to be hard at work on this between now and All-Star weekend, that's for sure." Berger noted since the last formal CBA negotiating session in N.Y., the league and NBPA have "begun holding smaller staff meetings to address specifics of each side's proposal." But Thursday's meeting "will be the first session involving Stern, Silver and Hunter since Stern dropped his bombshell after last month's Board of Governors meeting" that owners are looking for a $750-800M reduction in player salaries (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/14). Fisher acknowledges that there is "plenty of work to do between now and when the current CBA expires June 30." Fisher: "We're open to a lot of things but mainly open to realistic dialogue that's focused on real solutions rather than just throwing things out just to see how their response is." Lakers C and NBPA VP Theo Ratliff "scoffed at contraction, an issue Stern brought up last month." Ratliff said, "When you're selling teams for $450 million, a lot of people are looking to get in this league. So, I mean, the contraction part, it's a stretch. It's a stretch for me." FANHOUSE.com's Chris Tomasson noted it will be "considered pivotal when the union and NBA owners get together during the Feb. 18-20 All-Star Weekend" in L.A. If "no significant progress is made by then, the general belief is a lockout would be much more likely," which is why the NBPA is "trying to get as many players as possible to come to Los Angeles that weekend" (FANHOUSE.com, 11/12).

KOBE WEIGHS IN ON DEBATE: Lakers G Kobe Bryant weighed in on CBA issues “for the first time Sunday night with some strong words for NBA owners.” Bryant said, “The owners need to look in the mirror. They need to make the right judgment themselves and stop trying to force us players to be the ones to make adjustments. They’ve got to look in the mirror and decide what they want to do with the sport, and we as employees will show up and do what we’ve got to do.” He added, “I’m going to fight for our players. It’s about making sure we have the best deal going forward. ... It’s about taking care of the generation that’s coming after us. That’s what the guys before us tried to do, and that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m not going to waver from that.” CBSSPORTS.com’s Berger notes these are the “strongest words yet spoken publicly by an NBA player about the owners’ pursuit of a hard cap, enormous salary reductions and a rollback of existing contracts.” Coming from Bryant, “they carried weight -- both with the players and owners” (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/15).

SHARE THE WEALTH: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote there is "no greater silent problem in the NBA than the continued lack of parity at the top." Only seven franchises have won an NBA title since '84; during that time, MLB has crowned 18 different World Series winners, the NFL has had 14 different champions and the NHL 13. Stern said, "I don't think that (seven) is a fair enough number. We've had teams like Utah, Orlando, Portland and Cleveland go to the Finals." He added, "We're focused on some things in our collective bargaining that will make the league a little more competitive in respect to competition between the teams, where large-market teams don't have huge economic disparities to utilize to make them better. We've talked a little bit about teams to retool faster; teams that are judged to make mistakes under the cap" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/14).

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